ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – It wasn’t exactly a bold prediction by Bills DT Marcell Darues to guarantee they’d beat the winless Cleveland Browns. Fortunately he wound up being right; the Bills didn’t become the first team to lose to the now 0-14 Browns this season after a 33-13 victory on Sunday, and they have LeSean McCoy to thank.
The 28-year-old back ripped through the league’s 31st ranked defense to the beat 153 yards – his highest single-game total as a Bill – and two second half touchdowns. On his second touch of the game he also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season for the fifth time in his career. But wait, there’s more, Shady and Mike Gillislee’s three combined scores helped establish a new franchise record for rushing touchdown’s in a season (27). The previous mark of 26 dated back to the days of O.J. Simpson.
“We are nothing like the Juice (O.J. Simpson) as far as playing ball,” McCoy said of the record. “He’s a true baller. So it’s definitely cool, I think records are meant to be broken and you always just try to do your best.”
Last week Shady had only 27 yards in one of the team’s worst rushing performances of the season (67 yards). In Week 15, he went back to being nearly untouchable, leaving Browns defenders scattered in his trail as he broke off five runs of 10 or more yards and averaged over eight per carry.
“I’m just every game at a time, I kind of focus back on that at the end of the season,” McCoy said of his stellar campaign likely going to waste. “We have a couple games left, I’m just trying to make the best out of them, win them out, and hopefully something crazy happens where we can get a playoff shot, but other than that I’m just focused on the positive.”
With contributions from Gillislee, Tyrod Taylor, Jonathan Williams in mop up duty and even WR Brandon Tate the Bills amassed 280 total yards on the ground, the second most in a single-game this season.
Almost immediately it was obvious the Bills were going to have their way with the Browns defense. After disposing of Cleveland’s opening drive in just three plays, Buffalo began their first possession at the Cleveland 47. Back-to-back runs of 20 and 24 yards from McCoy had the Bills down to the five in just three plays, however, they’d abandon the run game that got them down there in the first place and wound up kicking a field goal.
On the ensuing series, Cleveland would put together their longest drive of the game by both plays and time to equalize the Bills with a field goal of their own. The next Bills drive had a much better result than the first. Eight plays, 74 yards and a touchdown. The highlight; a fancy direct snap to Gillislee reverse to Brandon Tate, got Buffalo into the red zone. This time around common sense prevailed, and the Bills stuck with the run game as Gillislee’s punched in a three-yard score, two plays later.
In front 10-3, the Bills would never relinquish the lead from there. They’d add a second touchdown one possession later, on a 19-yard strike from Taylor-to-Charles Clay, ballooning the lead to 14 point at the half. Cleveland made things interesting for a moment at the start of the third quarter by forcing a Bills three-and-out and immediately orchestrating an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that cut the deficit back to seven. It was a short lived comeback effort. Rushing touchdowns number 26 and 27 of the season followed on each of the Bills next two drives, both from McCoy, the Browns squeezed a field goal field in between, and with 12:38 remaining in the fourth quarter the Bills were in total control 30-13. They’d add a final field goal for good measure but it made no difference. For the Brown anemic offense, that was much too large of a deficit to overcome. As a unit they went three-and-out on five separate occasions and quarterback Robert Griffin III looked wildly inconsistent. Outside of his nifty 18-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter he finished 17-of-28 for 196 yards.
A blowout win over the hapless Browns feels good today, but it does very little to mask the harsh realities that still exist at One Bills Dr. Rex Ryan’s seat is still burning strong and while a Patriots win over the Broncos keeps Buffalo “in the hunt” for at least another week, year 17 of the playoff drought is practically unavoidable.
“You know, you look back and say yeah I wish we could’ve played better, done this one that,” DT Kyle Williams said following his one and a half sack, four tackle performance. “But at the same time it doesn’t help you when you’re still in the middle of the season … Maybe down the line things will work out. Yeah you look at it like we could’ve done this, could’ve done that. Right now, there is no time for that.”
No time for that indeed. The Dolphins await in six short days.
“I don’t know what my future holds, I just know I’m going to get this team ready to play Saturday, on Christmas Eve, and I’m excited about that,” Ryan explained.
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